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Restoration of one of the oldest buildings in High Wycombe given approval

| September 18, 2020
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The front of the shop as it is today, 2-3 High Street, High Wycombe. (Image supplied by Buckinghamshire Council)

Renovation work to one of the oldest buildings in High Wycombe has been approved.

Listed Building Consent and Planning Permission has been granted to restore the premises at 2-3 High Street, High Wycombe.

Dating in part from 1399, the three storey building which in the 17th Century was the Wheatsheaf Inn, has been largely empty since the 1960s except for use as two shops on the ground floor.

The timber framed building is thought to be the earliest surviving building in High Wycombe apart from the Parish church.

Following the restoration work the building will echo one of its former uses with a Cafe Bar at street level and community use to the upper floors.

While 2-3 High Street served the town as The Wheatsheaf Inn during the 17th century and a coffee house in the 18th, its position close to the church and market-place suggests it may have originally been a guildhall, market house or connected with the church. In the early 20th century the shop became The Old Wheatsheaf Pharmacy and later served the historic High Street as a tobacconist and dry cleaners.

The journey to restoration has been long and deliberate, says Patrick Hogan, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, since the Buckinghamshire Historic Buildings Trust (BHBT) began negotiating with the former Wycombe District Council, which eventually invested in its purchase, to free the Trust’s funds for future refurbishment.

The story that followed has been the result of a vision by the Trust and collaboration with many stakeholders to return it to a usable building, retaining its 14th century features.

Patrick said: ‘None of this just happens. This has been an excellent collaboration between a considerable number of people – the Trust’s team of historic building experts, architects, surveyors, structural engineers and cost and business consultants, as well as the Council’s officers, with the support of Council Members.

We have our meticulous Heritage and Conservation team to thank for a strong guiding hand in protecting another piece of the town’s history having already seen their hand at work in the preservation of Brunel’s Engine Shed by the station.

Patrick said the Council’s Conservation Officer, Sarah Oborn, who has a keen eye for neglected buildings warranting restoration, had felt the building could be rejuvenated for a use that revealed its past and showcased its history and had drawn it to the Trust’s attention, feeling it would be the right body to do the work. The Trust then successfully bid for an Architectural Heritage Fund grant and with the planning green light, can start work on the restoration ‘Wheatsheaf Project’.

Dr James Moir, who chairs the BHBT, said: ‘We’re excited, through this successful partnership with Buckinghamshire Council, to be creating a focal community space which will delight in using its heritage as a means of encouraging everyone to linger in and cherish the town’s historic quarter.

Further information about the building and a £350,000 grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund to help restore the building can be found at the following link ‘£350k grant to transform a piece of history in High Wycombe High Street‘.

The applications were approved under the following planning and Listed Building applications :

  • Planning application : 20/05908/FUL.
  • Listed Building Application : 20/05909/LBC .

*Source of article : Press release from Buckinghamshire Council.

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